Extra help from your local council
If you are struggling financially, help to pay for emergency costs like food and bills may be available from your local authority. In the past this worked in the same way across the UK, but it now varies based on where you live.
If you live in England
Each local authority is given a pot of money from the government to run its own local welfare fund and it can choose how to use the money locally. You should get in touch with your council to find out what support it is able to provide you.
Some councils may provide cash grants and some may use their welfare fund to support services provided by charities and the voluntary sector.
Household Support Fund - October 2021 to March 2024
The Household Support Fund was launched by the government in October 2021. At first it was due to last for six months but it has been extended several times so that it is now due to last until 31 March 2024.
It is intended to help vulnerable households with essential costs such as food, energy bills, water bills and other essentials. Help with housing costs may also be available in cases of emergency.
In England, the money will be distributed by local authorities so they can use the money where is it most needed. Contact your council to find out if you are eligible for any support.
If you live in Northern Ireland
The Finance Support Service supports people who are in need of short-term financial help. It has various parts depending on what help you may need.
The Universal Credit Contingency Fund payment may be available if you don't have enough money to live on until you get your first Universal Credit payment and need additional financial support. You will not have to pay this back.
Discretionary Support is short term financial support paid into your bank account as either an interest-free loan or a grant which you do not have to pay back.
More information is available on all of these on NIdirect.gov.
If you live in Wales
The Discretionary Assistance Fund provides two types of grant that you do not need to pay back:
The Emergency Assistance Payment is for help with essential costs, such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel if you are experiencing extreme financial hardship, have lost your job or have applied for benefits and are waiting for your first payment.
The Individual Assistance Payment is a grant to help you or someone you care for live independently in their home or a property that you or they are moving into.
More information is available on gov.wales.
If you are a homeowner, the Help to Stay scheme may also be able to provide a shared equity loan to help you cover your mortgage costs if you are in mortgage difficulty and at risk of losing your home.
If you live in Scotland
The Scottish Welfare Fund includes:
- the Crisis Grant for help dealing with an emergency
- the Community Care Grant for people needing help to live in their community
More information is available from mygov.scot.
Extra help in any area
Budgeting Loans and Budgeting Advances
These schemes are also available for people who need help to pay for one-off expensive essential items such as furniture, home removal costs, improvements for your home, getting a job, staying in work or funeral costs. The money needs to be repaid but it is interest free.
Budgeting Loans are for people who have been getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit for at least six months. Find out more on gov.uk.
Budgeting Advances are for people who have been claiming Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for 6 months or more. If the money is to help with starting a new job or staying in work there are no time limits. Find out more on gov.uk.
Furniture and white goods
Your local council may be able to help you get hold of items of furniture or white goods. The Furniture Resource Centre has a search function to signpost you to your local authority.